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Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones writes columns and television/radio commentary for the Tampa Bay Times' Sports section. He has covered everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports since starting with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1986. After the Independent, Tom worked at the Times (1987-91), the Tampa Tribune (1991-96), the Times again (1996-2000), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2000-03) and returned for his third stint at the Times in 2003. Though he has covered all sports, Tom is a hockey writer at heart. He covered the Tampa Bay Lightning from its first game in 1992 until moving to Minnesota to cover the Wild for three years. He returned to the Times again to cover the Lightning until taking over as writer and editor for Page Two in 2006. He lists Herb Brooks, Lou Piniella and Wayne Gretzky as the most interesting personalities he has covered and the 2002 Winter Olympics as the best event he has covered. Tom co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM. He previously hosted a weekly sports roundtable show on Bright House Sports Network.

Phone: (727) 893-8544


Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

  1. Jones: Maybe the Florida job isn't as good as we thought


    These are strange, unsettling times for the University of Florida.

    The Gators need themselves a football coach.

    They offer a terrific job. Maybe one of the best jobs in the country.


    Uh, right? (nervous laugh)

    Well, we'll soon find out. Maybe this isn't such the give-my-right-arm-for job we all think it is. Maybe the brand has been scuffed up and dented so badly by previous coaches Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain that the Gators simply can't have their pick of the litter anymore....

    In this file photo, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly arrives before the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game with Wisconsin, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Pasadena, Calif. Kelly is reportedly considering offers to become the head football coach at the University of Florida and UCLA. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
  2. Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs


    MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.

    It's a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.

    And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.

    The Bucs won a football game. They beat the Dolphins, 30-20. That's two victories in a row. That's kind of a big deal....

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston greets Miami Dolphins players following Tampa Bay's win. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay's 30-20 victory


    MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.

    The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.

    In fact, the best part of Sunday's game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirring rendition of the national anthem by J Rome, a U.S. Air Force veteran and winner of the ABC show Duets. Toss in a giant flag that covered the entire football field and a flyover by two F-35s from the 388th Fighter Wing Hill Air Force Base Utah and we were ready for a great day of football....

    Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) passes during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh: Who would you rather have?


    In the crowd-pleasing sports-talk of game of "Who Would You Rather Have?'' there might not be a more perfect match-up than this.

    Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh.

    Both are defensive tackles. Both went to, what were at the time, Big 12 schools. Both were college All-Americans. Both are 6 feet 4 and 300 pounds.

    And they were taken on back-to-back picks in the 2010 draft, both going to lousy football teams....

    Ndamukong Suh #93 of the Miami Dolphins tries to stop Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
  5. Jones: The goalie who could make us forget Ben Bishop

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop showed up at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.

    So how's the big guy doing?

    Don't know. Don't care.

    Sorry, that's wasn't meant to be mean. Bishop is a great goalie, a good guy and a class act. He helped turn the Lightning into the winning organization it is today.

    But these days, it's all about the goalie the Lightning kept. Not the one it traded....

    Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy might never put up great numbers, but he knows how to win. “He’s a big reason why we’re sitting where we are now,” Steven Stamkos says.
  6. Jones: The idea of Gruden and the Bucs beats the reality


    Jon Gruden to the Bucs?

    Sounds like one sloppy, happy mess.

    It would be one part delicious, one part debacle and all parts completely compelling.

    I can see it now.

    The Bucs season ends Dec. 31. They could hire Gruden before we finish off Auld Lang Syne.

    What a way to start the new year.

    The fans would love it. The ticket office would love. The media would love it....

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden chats with fan Leigh Dittman, 17, during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. Gruden will be inducted into the Buccaneers "Ring of Honor" this season.
  7. Jones: Lavonte David is the best thing the Bucs have going for them


    TAMPA — The Bucs won a football game Sunday. After losing five in a row, that's a pretty big deal.

    And don't you dare take the air of it just because it was an ugly win against a second-rate Jets team with a third-rate Josh McCown at quarterback. Who cares? A win is a win. How they won and who they beat doesn't mean a darn thing....

    New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire (25) runs into Bucs outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) during the first half. [AP Photo/Jason Behnken]
  8. Bucs-Jets report card: This win was no masterpiece, but it counts just the same


    TAMPA — The last time the Bucs won a football game was two years ago. Actually, before Sunday, it was Oct. 1. But in the NFL, when you go more than a month without a victory, it always feels worse than it really is. Five-game losing streaks are rare in the NFL. To win a game after that long of a drought calls for parades and champagne. At the very least, it calls for some smiles and loud music in the locker room. So that was the scene in the home locker room on Sunday following Tampa Bay's 15-10 victory against the Jets. With that in mind, Times columnist Tom Jones hands out his grades for Sunday's game....

    New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) is sacked by Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  9. Bucs-Jets: What to do with the final eight Bucs games


    TAMPA — Know what might be the most sobering part of the Bucs' disappointing season?

    We're only halfway through it.

    Doesn't it feel like the Bucs already have played like 14 games?

    Ugh. Eight more games to go.

    While Bucs players are saying all the things they are supposed to say — one game at a time, we can still get back into this thing, we're not giving up — it is hard, if not full-blown impossible, to see this season ending in anything other than a 10th straight season of missing the playoffs....

    A Bucs fan hangs out before a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills at New Era Field in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  10. Tom Jones' Two Cents on college basketball season


    Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the 2017-18 college basketball season.

    The top five

    My picks for the nation's top five teams:

    1. Duke: As if the Blue Devils weren't loaded enough, they add four sensational freshmen in Trevon Duval, Gary Trent and Wendell Carter, plus top high-school recruit Marvin Bagley, a big man out of Phoenix who can shoot and might end up being Duke's best player....

    Yale’s Alex Copeland tied for the team lead in scoring last season as a sophomore, averaging 12.9 points per game.
  11. NFL Midseason Report: What would we do without Tony Romo?


    Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the first half of the NFL season.

    Goofiest story

    Pizza Wars! Sounds like it should be a TV show on Food Network. First, the Papa John guy blames company losses on the NFL and the anthem protests, slamming league commissioner Roger Goodell in the process. Then ProFootballTalk points out that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who currently has a little feud going with Goodell, is buddies with Papa John and owns a bunch of Papa John franchises and might have been behind the whiny rant. Then Pizza Hut joins in to say its sales are fine. And then frozen pizza DiGiorno comes off the top rope and makes fun of Papa Johns, who also has to ask that Neo-Nazis don't eat his pizza. Tell me you wouldn't watch this show....

    Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on from the sidelines against the New York Giants in the second half at MetLife Stadium on November 5, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) 700070722
  12. Jones: It would be a mistake to fire Dirk Koetter or Jason Licht, for now


    NEW ORLEANS — People lose jobs over games like this in a season like this.

    The mob watches a game like the Bucs' 30-10 loss to the Saints on Sunday, and the knee-jerk reaction is to grab pitchforks, torches and a handful of pink slips.

    They want the coach fired. They want the general manager fired. They want the owners to sell the team and be on the first plane out of town. Forget cleaning house; they want the house doused with paint thinner and burned to the ground....

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter checks on wide receiver Mike Evans, who went down with a leg injury, during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  13. Bucs-Saints report card: Mike Evans did right by his quarterback


    NEW ORLEANS — What a rotten day in New Orleans. Call it the Big Queasy. Another drubbing. Another season down the tubes, or so it would appear.

    It was a crazy day. There were loads of injuries, including yet another (same) injury to Jameis Winston's shoulder and a scary one to Bucs defensive end Will Gholston. There was a fight. And mistakes aplenty....

    New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn (19) catches a deep touchdown pass as Bucs free safety Chris Conte (23) cannot get to the ball in time . [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  14. Jones: A half-empty, half-full view of the Bucs


    The Bucs head to New Orleans, and it won't be a Big Easy. At 2-5 and losers of four in a row, their season is in jeopardy.

    By Sunday night, they will have new hope, or we can pick a graveyard plot to bury this 2017 season.

    It wasn't supposed to be this way.

    The Bucs were offseason darlings, the chic pick to make the playoffs. They've gone from up-and-coming to down-and-outing in a month....

    Jameis Winston can win games by himself, but he’s clearly not at his best.
  15. What not to do when hiring Florida's next football coach


    Dear Scott Stricklin,

    Guess being athletic director at Florida isn't always such a fun job, huh?

    You're coming off a pretty rough week, firing Jim McElwain as your football coach and all. You did the right thing, but it wasn't easy handing a pink slip to a guy who was respectable 22-12 in less than three seasons. That took guts....

    Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, shown here in an  April 2, 2012 file photo, faces one of the biggest decisions of his career in hiring the next Gators football coach. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)